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Pimento cheese isn’t just for crackers anymore

This first recipe says it’s a southern variety of pimento cheese. I’m not sure that pimento cheese is a regional dish, but I know that we southern folks do enjoy a good dish of it.

Southern Pimento Cheese

2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. onion powder

4 oz. diced pimentos, drained

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, add all ingredients to the bowl and blend just until well combined. Mixing too much will break down the shreds of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you prefer a smooth pimento cheese, which is great for sandwiches, this next recipe should be a winner. This version is close to the recipe my friend shared with me, but I couldn’t give you that one. She said she’d have to hurt me if I shared it. (I think she was kidding, but I’m not taking any chances.)

Creamy Pimento Cheese

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. sugar

¼ cup white vinegar

1 lb. Velveeta, cubed

4 oz. diced pimentos, drained

In a small saucepan, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the sugar and vinegar mixing well. Over medium heat, stir constantly, cooking the egg mixture until it thickens. This will take about five minutes. Placed the cubed Velveeta in a microwave safe bowl and heat on 50 percent power until it is melted and smooth. This will take about five to seven minutes (be sure to check every 30 seconds after reaching five minutes of melt time). Mix the melted cheese into the egg mixture and stir in the pimentos. Stir to combine well. Place the mixture in a covered dish and refrigerate. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Cool completely before serving.

I will say that my friend’s version did add in a ½ cup of mayonnaise to the mixture before refrigerating, but that may be something you can either add or forget about entirely.

This next recipe is for a version that is baked and served warm.

Baked Pimento Cheese Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

8 oz. pkg. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

8 oz. pkg. grated pepper jack cheese

12 oz. jar roasted peppers, drained

8 oz. diced pimentos, drained

1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a two-quart baking dish with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and both cheese. Mix well to combine. Place the red peppers and pimentos on paper towels and press out the excess moisture (you don’t want it to be too soupy when baked). Roughly chop the peppers and add them with the pimentos to the bowl of cheese mixture. Add hot sauce if using along with Worcestershire, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Serve with crackers, toast points or your favorite chips.

This recipe isn’t necessarily one you would prepare to serve as a finger food-type dish, but it would be a welcome addition to a brunch or dinner menu and would certainly impress your guests.

Pimento Cheese Grits

5 cups water

3 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups medium-grind, stone-ground grits

salt

4 oz. sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. sharp white chddar cheese, shredded

3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup diced pimento, drained and patted dry

1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional)

Black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits in a slow, steady stream. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until the grits are thickened and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk both cheddar cheeses into the grits along with the cream cheese, pimentos and cayenne; season with salt and black pepper. Scrape the grits into a serving bowl, garnish with thinly sliced scallions if desired and serve.

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe, but if you’ve every made a tomato pie, this may be a good idea.

When you prepare the pie as usual, use your best pimento cheese to top the pie instead of the usual cheese and mayonnaise mixture that typically crowns this wonderful pie. I haven’t tried this suggestion myself, but with tomatoes about to come into the best season of the year, I do plan to give this one a go.

Any of the recipes would be a welcome addition to any party table. If you want to add a little more interest to any of these recipes, there are a few things you might consider adding to the list of ingredients. Some additions could be thinly sliced green onions, a little paprika,  a dollop of Dijon mustard, chopped bacon, chopped chives, a little sriracha, chopped pickled or fresh jalapenos, and I’ve even heard of people adding a ¼ cup of beer to the recipe. I’m not sure how I feel about that one.

Whichever recipe you choose, I’m sure the outcome will be delicious. Happy cooking!